Tag Archives: James A. Williams

Memories of Cats

James and Taffy – 1986 Idlewild, Michigan

As far as I know my ancestors did not have cats, although many had dogs. We had some cats in Mississippi, they lived in the barn and were sort of wild. Where did they originally come from? I cannot remember.

We moved to Idlewild, Michigan in the fall of 1986 and brought our cat Taffy with us. She had been gifted to us by our neighbors in Excelsior Springs, Missouri. Taffy founded a dynasty that lasted over 20 years. We spayed and neutered the last batch. Most of the cats eventually wandered off and never returned, but one named Panther stayed for over 17 years and moved to Atlanta with us where he soon died, never adjusting to city life at all.

Taffy’s children


James: Wow. Mumia enjoyed the photo of me and the cat.
Me: Do you remember that? Or the cat on your shoulder.
James: When I saw it I was like “Aaaaaargh – Why do I have the cat all up in my face like that!!!” I remember the hat and know where I must have been standing on the deck. But I don’t remember the actual picture. I first asked Mumia if he recognized anyone in the picture, he thought it was his friend Levon. We were trying to figure out how old I was. That cat looks pretty big. I was thinking sixish?
Me: It was our first winter in Idlewild, 1986/87. You were about 4/5.

In Mississippi I remember a lady who bought our goat milk and wanted one of the wild barn cats. They were a variety of colors, but she only wanted a white cat. His name was Peter Pan and he bit my husband’s hand while he was trying to catch him. He was finally caught and handed over.

Peter Pan

Ife: I remember dropping kittens over the railing at the house in Mississippi to see if they would land on their feet.
Me: I remember telling you all to stop dropping them.
James: Did you ever try it after clipping their whiskers?
Ife: No. We didn’t strap buttered bread on their backs either.
James: I remember the results of an experiment we did involving falling cats – with and without whiskers. but I don’t remember doing the actual experiment.

Sydney with big weed.
James and his children found gigantic dandelion sculptures even bigger than the originals shown below.

Sydney: those dandelions are huge
Me: They must be dandelions big sister.
James: Or the children are tiny
Me: They weren’t that tiny

Ife: I just saw some of those and asked the person whose garden they were in because I remembered these pictures. They are wild onion/garlic (alums). They are purple before they go to seed.

Tulani: Memories of cats?! I have plenty… I remember when cutie pie climbed up your leg trying to get to what you were cooking on the table, and that the second taffy used to be able to pull open my bedroom door….I remember bottle feeding kittens…
Plenty more…I’m sure…

James: I remember the kittens being found in the pile of wood over by the rabbits. Also, I remember Cabral naming one of the kittens Cutie Pie…I have that sad memory about the cat and mailbox.

Me: I remember one mother cat who was hidden in the car and chewed Cabral’s bottle . I put her out at Head Start and she was gone forever.  Never made it home. Her kittens must be the ones Tulani remembers bottle feeding.

A variety of cats with family members.

We did this experiment as part of our home school science class. We buttered a piece of bread and tied it onto the back of a cat. When dropped from the height of a picnic table, the cat landed on it’s feet. I think to be a real test of the sayings – bread always lands buttered side down and a cat always lands on it’s feet – we would have had to have a piece of bread the same size as the cat, which we didn’t.

My sister Pearl’s memories of her cat, Scatter

That was Scatter. Here he is. A great cat. He came to our door one day when he was tiny. I tried to shoo him away but when Zeke walked up behind me, he let out a loud cat wail and leaped up on the screen like he was finding his long lost friend. Zeke gave him some water. Then some milk. Then some tuna. Then he moved in! Lol. For almost 20 years!!

We had to stop letting him out because we live on such a busy corner. He used to hunt when he could go out. He’d bring home a dead chipmunk and eat it on the porch! Yuck! He was fast. He ran from our porch across our street one day and pounced on a blue jay in a tree across the street!

Only cat we ever had. He was very cool. He’s buried in the backyard.

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A Birth And A Special Dinner – 1982

“They set up a table in our room with a white tablecloth and a test tube bud vase. It was a good meal. I had thought I wouldn’t be able to have the dinner and had to call Jim at the Reeses to come eat. I had been on a special diet until that afternoon. James slept very nicely through the whole meal.”

Story of James Birth From His Baby Book – 1982

James was born during an ice storm. Actually the ice storm began the day before he was born. We went into Jackson (we were living about half an hour away in Simpson County at the time) when the storm started because I started having mild contractions about the same time. We stayed with a family with 6 children Jim worked with sometimes in printing. The first night I woke up and the contractions were stronger and we went to the hospital, but they faded away at the hospital and we went back to the Reece’s house. She said she knew I wasn’t really in labor because I was checking on everyone before I left. The next day my water broke and there was some meconium staining in the show. We went back to the hospital around 2 in the afternoon. I said I hoped they wouldn’t have to send me home again but Dr Barnes said since my water broke I wouldn’t be leaving until the baby came.

I was in the same birthing suite I used when Tulani was born. And had the same nurses. They hooked me up to the monitor because of the meconium and even attached a wire to James head to “get a better reading”. I remember thinking as I was laying there listening to the nurses talking and going about their business, that there I was laying there in labor and yet they were living their regular lives. They weren’t actually involved in it at all. I imagine it’s sort of like when you’re dying. But that’s neither here nor there.

I started pushing at 6:30PM and figured the baby would be born soon. After an hour of second stage labor and pushing the head still wasn’t engaged. I remarked between contractions that I hoped it wasn’t going to take me until midnight for the baby to be born. (I said that because each of the babies was born three hours later then the last one and Tulani was born around 9 PM.) Dr. Barnes said they weren’t going to wait that long, if he (she was sure it was a boy because he was causing so much trouble, she said) wasn’t born in an hour she was going to do a c-section. That hadn’t even entered my mind. Soon she sent all the nurses that were waiting for the birth off to get ready. I tried getting on my knees like I had with Ayanna, but to tell the truth, the mood was ruined. I just wanted to get the whole thing over with. If the baby was going to require a c-section, just go on and do it, I thought. Of course afterwards I wondered if I’d tried pushing awhile longer if he would have come on down.

On the way to the delivery room I asked Dr. Barnes if she would tie my tubes since I was going to be opened up and she said yes and I didn’t have to sign any papers, I think Jim did. And she gave me a tubal. Afterwards, when I found out that once you have a c-section you don’t always have to have a c-section if it’s not structural, I wished I hadn’t.

James was born at 8:17PM. He was 22 and 3/4 inches long and weighted 8 lbs and 12 ozs. He was fine and nursed fine and kept on growing. His Apgar score was 9 at one minute and 10 at three minutes.

My mother told me that we should name James for my husband. So we did. She was very ill with cancer and died five months later without having ever seen baby James.

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